Title Fight's Ned Russin on Superstorm Sandy and the Elusive Definition of "Hardcore"
By Mike Bogumill
Title Fight's growth has been well documented. Starting with a series of 7-inches in the mid 2000s, the band has evolved from teenagers playing fast pop punk songs influenced by Lifetime and Saves the Day, to young adults playing gruffer, darker music that's not quite as easy to pin down.
I recently talked with bassist and vocalist Ned Russin about the weather, Pennsylvania, growth, and the elusive definition of hardcore, all while probably mispronouncing the name of his hometown (Wikipedia says it's pronounced like 'wilkesbarruh', but over the phone with Ned it sounded like 'wilksberry', I pronounced it like 'Wilke's Bar'). Regardless, he had a lot to say about where the band came from and where it is going.
Up on the Sun: I understand you guys are from eastern Pennsylvania and I just wanted to know how everything is doing with the hurricane. I know it's not a coastal area, but it's still a vulnerable place. Is everything alright over there?
Ned Russin: Yeah, everything in our area was, fortunately, good. A couple of things, minor things like power outages for a little bit and some trees getting a little shaken up. But we have friends who are in New Jersey and New York and stuff, and they got it way worse than we did. It's a weird thing to be so far away from home and to kind of miss all that and be so in the dark about all that stuff. That's one of the biggest downsides of touring, not being able to be there for the people that you care about. We actually just started to raise money at these shows for the hurricane relief, so we are trying to do all that we can even though we're not even home to help out really.
So, you started tour a few weeks back. How has it been? How did the Floral Green release show go?
The release show was awesome. Currently, in our hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, we don't have a venue. So we ended up renting a firehall and building a stage and renting a massive PA and all this stuff.
We put together this huge show, very barebones, and it came together really well. It obviously should have been shut down by the cops in about 20 minutes and somehow we got away with 6 bands playing to 500 or so kids. It was crazy; it was awesome. So that was really cool to be a part of and a lot of fun and I think just, overall, it was one of the best shows we've ever played. Then we had about a week off and then we left for this tour. The shows have been really great, really great turn outs, people have been reacting well to the new songs and the bands that we are on tour with are really cool and we honestly couldn't ask for anything better than what we have right now.
You mentioned not having a venue at the moment. I understand that Title Fight is involved in the Redwood Art Space in Wilkes-Barre. That venue is undergoing a movement to a new location. Could you explain your involvement in that and how it's going along?
So basically we come from a small town in Northeastern, PA, that had one venue and that was around for about 15 years. And the area that it was in, I guess you could call it downtown Wilkes-Barre, but I don't think there is a real "downtown." There's two colleges there and they are trying to kind of clean up the area around where the venue was. So eventually they kept on trying to raise the rent and they [the venue] couldn't afford it so they got ran out of town and then we were left with nothing for about a half a year. So some friends of ours and us decided that the only logical thing to do was to start our own venue.
So basically it was a group of friends who helped book shows and always went to shows and played in bands and everything, and we all just got together, found a location, built a stage, put together the PA and booked shows. We would do whatever we could when we were home and we had a lot of help in the starting processes. And then after that, it was just kind of a self sufficient, independent small venue. So, it was going for about a year and then we ran into some trouble. Just kind of, you know, the typical stuff: the police in town weren't totally thrilled with us being there, some complaints the neighbors, and stupid stuff that just made it hard for us to be there, but we ended up finding a place that is in Wilkes-Barre proper and we're going to be opening up very soon. It's bigger, and it's a better location, and I think it's just going to be a better all around experience. Hopefully by the end of the year we're thinking. It moves very slowly. We're dealing with a lot of obstacles, but we're not going to give up by any means. We're just going to keep doing it until we get it right and we have a venue that can stick around for as long as it possibly can.